Redhawks end skid with 3-1 OVC win

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Three Southeast Missouri State freshmen who have been impressive all season were largely responsible for the Redhawks' ending their nine-game losing streak.

Elaine Fisher, Megan McDonald and Michelle Summers sparkled as the Redhawks began a crucial four-game homestand to end the regular season with Friday afternoon's quick 3-1 win over Eastern Illinois.

Southeast improved to 23-25 overall and 11-13 in Ohio Valley Conference play to take over sole possession of sixth place in the OVC entering a three-game series against Austin Peay that begins with today's 1 p.m. doubleheader.

The top six finishers in the 10-team league qualify for the OVC Tournament. Southeast is in a scramble with Eastern Kentucky (10-13), Austin Peay (9-13) and Morehead State (9-13) for the sixth and final spot.

"It's a great start to the weekend. One down and three to go," Southeast coach Lana Richmond said. "It's in our hands, since we're a half-game ahead of Eastern Kentucky and we both have three games left.

"We need to win all three [against Austin Peay] to make sure we get in, but two out of three will probably give us a pretty good chance."

Fisher, McDonald and Summers all gave the Redhawks a pretty good chance of knocking off the Panthers (15-29, 12-12), who are in fifth place in the OVC.

Fisher continued her recent stellar pitching with an efficient four-hitter that featured six strikeouts and no walks. The game took just 1 hour and 20 minutes. Fisher is 6-5 with a team-best 1.48 earned run average. In OVC games only, she is 4-2 with an 0.45 ERA.

The only run EIU scored, in the seventh and final inning, was unearned thanks to Southeast's lone error of the game that allowed a Panthers player who had singled to advance to third.

"I really felt good in warmups. I knew I was going to have it," Fisher said. "I'm a groundball pitcher and the defense really helped me out. We needed this game."

McDonald, a Central High School graduate, homered and doubled. She gave Fisher all the support she would need with a two-out, two-run home run over the center-field fence in the first inning.

McDonald leads Southeast with a .366 batting average, while ranking second in homers with six, doubles with 12 and runs batted in with 24. She is hitting .400 in conference play.

"The losing streak has been very frustrating, but it's great to get a win," McDonald said. "We're all ready to play this weekend, and to go win some games."

Summers also had two hits, including a double, and scored twice, although she was charged with the final-inning error on a tough play in right field. Summers is second on the team with a .346 average, while leading in homers with nine and doubles with 14. Her .405 average in OVC games tops the squad.

Summers, whose home-run total is the second-highest for a single season in school history, also is tied for second on the squad in RBIs. She and McDonald both have 24.

"Our freshmen just continue to play great," Richmond said. "Elaine was outstanding on the mound. She kept the ball down, and we made some good plays behind her."

Senior Kelly Birk, who leads Southeast in RBIs with 25, added two hits, including a double. The Redhawks had six hits.

Summers led off the bottom of the first with a single and, two outs later, McDonald ripped a blast to dead center, making it 2-0.

Southeast scored its final run in the third, when Summers doubled with one out and scored on Birk's two-out double.

EIU broke the shutout in the seventh with the unearned run, but Fisher closed things out with ease.

"We're ready for the rest of the weekend now," Fisher said.

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